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Towards a fugitive press: materiality and the printed photograph in artists’ books

Daly, Timothy Michael (2016) Towards a fugitive press: materiality and the printed photograph in artists’ books. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The aim of my research is to demonstrate how a practice of hand made books based on the materiality of the photographic print and photo-reprography, could engage with notions of touch in the digital age. We take for granted that most artists’ books are made from paper using lithography and bound in the codex form, yet this technology has served neither producer nor reader well. As Hayles (2002:22) observed: We are not generally accustomed to thinking about the book as a material metaphor, but in fact it is an artifact whose physical properties and historical usage structure our interactions with it in ways obvious and subtle. My research examines the discourse surrounding the materiality of the photographic print within artists’ publishing and explores book handling as a research method to identify non-codex forms that invite non-sequential reading, physical interaction and touch. The primary purpose of the practice element of my research is to test disruptive making strategies and fugitive materials, in order to make tacit knowledge explicit in the physical forms of prototypes and finished artists’ books that operate beyond our horizons of expectations. My practice interconnects the separate fields of documentary photography and curating photography and the vernacular together with visual humour and seeks to restore a connection with the ‘thingness’ of photography largely absent in the post-digital age.

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